Grant and Stidder earn late derby success for Sports

Brackley Town keeper  Piotr Jacucha forces Easington Sports substitute Craig Robinson wide at St James Park
Brackley Town keeper Piotr Jacucha forces Easington Sports substitute Craig Robinson wide at St James Park

Easington Sports took over top spot in the UHLSport Hellenic League after they beat Division One East leaders Brackley Town Development 4-2 in Saturday’s derby at St James Park.

Saints started strongly and their attractive football meant they had lots of possession. But it was the visitors who took a 32nd minute lead when Steve Howkins picked up the ball just inside his own half and drove into the box, evading a defender and beating Piotr Jacucha.

Saints deservedly equalised two minutes before the break from a controversial penalty decision when Matt Keenan was penalised for handball in the box and Lewis Baldwin duly beat Darren Booker from the ensuing spot-kick.

Jacucha prevented Howkins from restoring Sports’ advantage just before the break but it was Saints who went in front a minute after the restart when Matt Johnson was first to react to a rebound in the box.

Substitute Craig Robinson had a strong penalty appeal turned down before Sports equalised in the 55th minute when James McMahon turned well and his shot squirmed under Jacucha.

Andrew Stidder went close before substitute Connor Grant put Sports back in front when he raced on to a through pass, outpaced the home defence and beat Jacucha from a narrow angle after being forced wide.

Saints continued to build from the back with some slick passing but Sports were able to create the clearer chances on the counter attack.

Stidder shot over the bar after some good link up play with Robinson before he showed good composure to make amends in the 89th minute to lift the ball over the stranded Jacucha.